Will Your Town Be the Next Stop on the RPG Tour?

Tabletop role-playing games have experienced a surge of interest thanks to the rise of online video, which makes the hobby much more accessible. But playing in-person is usually limited to finding other players and local hobby stores. Thanks to The RPG Tour, there’s now an opportunity to introduce role-playing to the masses, and it may be coming to a town near you.

Taking the Tour

The RPG Tour leaves Spokane, Washington, on September 19, and will cover from 8 to 13 states, depending on how the bus and finances hold up, and the demand from people to meet in person. The specific stops are based on prospective towns contacting RPG Research to meet them at a specific location.

“We hope the tour will raise awareness about the research showing the potential benefits of RPGs to help a wide range of people, and raise awareness about the many accessibility and inclusiveness issues that gamers still face today (though it is improving),” said Hawke Robinson, President and CEO of RPG Research. Robinson plans to spread the word about establishing professional standards in the RPG industry through quality training, certification, publications, and establishing standards. By doing so, he hopes to grow the core team of RPG Research volunteers. RPG Research staff range from across the U.S. to Saudi Arabia. Finally, Hawke hopes to raise awareness about RPG Research's goals and increase donor support for more research and community programs. “We currently have 18 core volunteers. We hope to reach 30 by the end of 2018, and 50+ by summer 2019,” said Hawke.

The RPG Tour will be conducted by the RPG Bus and Trailer, both wheelchair accessible prototypes. These vehicles allow RPG Research to bring games not only to people in town, but more importantly to those that have trouble getting to town for sessions.

“We can bring these wheelchair accessible game rooms on wheels to the street in front of their house, or a nearby park or parking lot, where they, with friends, can meet locally. Currently we do this throughout the northwest USA (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana), limited by how many donations we get as far as frequency and reach,” said Hawke.

The current RPG Trailer prototype can handle up to three people in wheelchairs (or up to 12 people without wheelchairs), and the RPG Bus can handle up to two people with wheelchairs, or up to six people without wheelchairs. This will be the second road trip for the RPG Bus and the eighth for the RPG Trailer.

RPG Research

Created in 2004, "The RPG Research Project" and incorporated in 2017, RPG Research is a 501(c)3 100% volunteer-run non-profit research and human services charitable organization studying the effects of all role-playing game formats (tabletop (TRPG), live-action (LARP), computer-based (CRPG), and solo adventure books/modules (SABM). RPG Research advocates for accessibility and inclusiveness in music and gaming.

“We provide an open, international, online repository of role-playing game (RPG) focused research, we aggregate research, conduct our own research, and foster the research of others into the effects of music and RPGs,” said Hawke. “We then and analyze that information to create inclusive and accessible community programs that help people from a wide range of populations measurably improve their lives.”

Hawke has been involved with RPGs since the late 1970s. He began researching RPGs in 1983, implemented RPG programs in educational settings since 1985, and inter-therapeutic settings since 2004. Hawke is also a Washington State Department of Health Recreational Therapist with a deep and diverse background in computer science and information security, research psychology and neuroscience, habilitation therapy, nursing, therapeutic music and recreation.

“Our current core volunteer staff ranges from young teenagers to over 50 years old, and a wide variety in between, with a diverse variety of age, ethnicity, gender, backgrounds, professions, experiences, and gaming preferences,” said Hawke. The staff is diverse too, with a wide range of disabilities and backgrounds (including educational, military veteran, therapeutic, and professional performer). “Some of our staff have 40+ years of gaming experience each, others as little as one year.”

There are several distinct roles on staff, including trainees and assistants to facilitate, advocate, and research role-playing games. They run, play, and research a wide range of games, from the broadly Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars, to the esoteric like Twilight 2000 and GURPS Cops. For more information and how to apply, see RPG Research’s application form.

It’s not just about playing games though. RPG Research uses a lot of adaptive equipment to try to help make games as inclusive as possible for tabletop, live-action, solo adventures books/modules, and computer-based games, including Braille dice, American Sign Language (ASL), writing implement grip adapters, wheelchair accessible mobile game rooms, and low-sensory stimulus "safe" rooms for sensory sensitive populations.

The Future of RPG Research

RPG Research’s goals are largely determined by donations, private grants, and volunteers. As the program continues to grow, its scope will grow too. “We hope in the long run to be able to build the ideal RPG friendly mobile facilities someday, and be able to increase the number of people we train and guide to run our research and community programs around the USA and the rest of world,” said Hawke.

Hawke’s doing this all by himself. He’s the only person on the tour, since it will take nearly a month and nobody else was able to get that much time off from work and school. He’s funding the trip out of his own pocket so that all donations can go to RPG Research.

The tour is an opportunity for Hawke to personally connect too. “I hope to meet in person the many people we've talked to over the Internet and phone over decades, let them see the bus and trailer in person and talk about how they help people, conduct presentations, interviews, and in-person interaction, and meet others running programs using music and RPGs to help people in their community.”

You can help with RPG Research’s mission by donating, request a visit of the RPG Tour, or by signing up to be a volunteer. And of course, it helps to spread the word online.

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
Michael Tresca


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